When The Cravings Hit: 10 Ways to Avoid Persistent Sugar Cravings
Do you find yourself reaching for that sugary drink or that candy bar to beat your afternoon slump, and then feel another craving two hours later? It’s not surprising. Sweet, simple sugars are like drugs. We can’t get enough of them. The taste of sugar calms us by releasing endorphins and giving us a chemical ‘high’.
But we all know by now sugar is all sorts of bad for us. It won’t be easy trying to cut down on these delicious empty calories, unless you really want to. Successfully quitting sugar is all about keeping yourself motivated and finding other ways of getting the rush sugar gives us. Here are ten ways – surprised there are so many?
- Exercise: When you workout, you get the same kind of endorphin-release you get from sugars. Exercise stimulates the production of serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’. Plus, it ties right in with your weight-loss goals!
- Follow a good sleep schedule: When you’ve slept well – which means the recommended 7 to 9 hours – your body’s stress levels are lower. You won’t be tricked into craving sugars when you’re stress-free. On the flip side, stress causes poor sleep. So you should do everything you can to manage stress. Exercise, meditation and refreshing recreation during a busy work day can help with that.
- Quit processed foods: Every time you eat an Oreo, you’re setting yourself up for a quick burst of energy followed by a slump. You’ll end up needing another sugary snack to beat that, and this goes on. Processed foods are simple sugars. When you quit them and switch to whole foods that slowly release the energy you need throughout the day, you won’t feel the need for simple sugars anymore.
- “Do I need this?” Have a go-to question for yourself every time you reach for a sugary snack. In fact, make it a habit to ask yourself, “Do I need this?” before you reach for anything to eat. This constant attention to what goes into your body will make it easier to stick to your goals.
- Eat several small, healthy meals through the day: When you keep your blood sugar stable by eating small amounts every few hours, you eliminate the sugar dips when you’re most vulnerable. Try to eat animal proteins between 11 am and 2 pm, and grains like quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat or millet in the evenings. You’ll be happier this way, and sleep better too.
- Find natural alternatives: If you need something for your coffee, reach for stevia. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar, doesn’t raise blood sugar and doesn’t add calories.
- Drink plenty of water: Your dehydration may make you feel like you’re craving sugar, when it’s water you need!
- Eat fruit instead of a cupcake: Instead of a sugary snack, eat a fruit salad. Fruit has sugar too, but it also has fiber, which will keep you full for longer. A cup of raspberries, for instance, contains 8 grams of fiber (and daily fiber requirements are between 21 – 38 grams depending on age and sex.)
- Do something fun in the afternoons: That’s when the craving hits most. Atkins Diet researchers say 62% people break their diet in the afternoons, when boredom and stress can hits hardest. Get the dull chores out of the way before the afternoon.
- Boost your mood with alternatives: Sniff vanilla-scented perfumes or mood-boosting oils such as lemon and neroli. They will get you over the craving.
So, when are you kicking your sugar habit?